01/05/2015 02:59 EST | Updated 03/07/2015 05:59 EST

Richmond airsoft field fighting for business license

Richmond City Council will today hear an application to open the province's first airsoft gun facility.

Eric Lam will argue his case for a business license this afternoon, arguing his facility would be very similar to exisiting paintball fields.

"Airsoft is essentially the exact same thing as paintball," he told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

"If you came to our facility you would be issued an automatic electric gun which would allow you to play the sport. They shoot .2 gram BBs versus paintballs."

Lam said the sport, which originated in China, is already played outdoors in Richmond. He said having a dedicated facility will make the sport safer.

Lam said the BBs have less of an impact than paintballs, and participants are equipped with body armour and protective glasses.

"Instead of playing in someone's backyard, or someone's garage or basement, these players can come to a facility which has all the safety equipment required."

Under Richmond's city bylaws, paintball fields fall under recreation zoning, but airsoft doesn't. A report by city staff states an airsoft gun falls within the city's definition of a firearm, and the property Lam hopes to use isn't zoned for an indoor shooting range.

A special council meeting will be held today at 4 p.m. to review Lam's application for a business license for an airsoft facility.

Lam said if he isn't granted a license he may look to open in another Lower Mainland city.

On mobile? Click here to see Richmond city staff's recommendations against Lam's proposed indoor airsoft facility.

To hear more about Eric Lam's bid to open an airsoft facility in Richmond, click the audio labelled: Richmond council looks at airsoft arena.